Thursday, November 26, 2015


We'll deviate from the Very Serious Issues usually taken up in this blog to feature a piece from the Boston Globe about Michael Dukakis who comes to UCLA each winter quarter and, among other things, co-teaches with ours truly.

You’ve carefully stuffed, cooked, and carved the turkey. You’ve sliced up all the extra pieces, packing them in tinfoil for leftovers. And you may think you’ve used every possible aspect of that turkey.
You’d be wrong. Michael Dukakis would very much like your turkey carcass.

In his tidy Brookline kitchen, the state’s former governor and onetime Democratic presidential nominee has had a quirky but endearing tradition legendary among family and friends. He collects Thanksgiving turkey carcasses to make soup for his extended family for the year to come. 

The man is renowned for his thriftiness — he drinks coffee bought in bulk at Costco, at 3 cents per cup — and he preserves every last element of the Thanksgiving dinner. Right down to the bone.
“Throwing out a turkey carcass is sinful. Absolutely sinful,” Dukakis says, in all seriousness. “It’s a terrible thing to do. There’s so much richness and goodness in a turkey carcass, God.”

So eager is Dukakis to gather turkey carcasses that he offers his home address (see full article; link below) for anyone who wants to drop one off. 

He preserves the carcasses, stuffing seven or eight of them in his freezer after each Thanksgiving, which on its own is quite a feat, requiring sharp scissors to get the bones down to a more reasonable size. 

“You cut them up. And wrap them up,” he says. “You can fit them in there as easily as possible. When the time comes, you pull them out.”

Throughout the course of the year, once every month or two, he removes one of the carcasses. He gets out a pot. He pours enough water to cover the bones, adds an onion, and lets it simmer for at least three hours. He cleans the meat off the bones, he adds in rice and any assortment of vegetables (“Peas are good. Carrots are good”). He heats it up, and relishes the smell that permeates the house on Perry Street. 

Listening to an 82-year-old man who has been eating this concoction since his mother made it for him as a boy, it’s hard to imagine anything tastier.

“There’s no better meal!” he says. “Healthy. And delicious.”

It’s all part of Dukakis’s aversion to waste — be it fat in the state budget, litter on the street, or turkey bones in the trash after Thanksgiving.

In some ways, this turkey tradition started in childhood.

“I used to love the after-feast turkey soup my mother made,” Dukakis recalls. “It was better than the feast.”

But really, it’s a tradition that he began within his own household two decades ago.

“It all started when my dear wife after 23 years of marriage — and she was a good cook, I must say — one day said, ‘That’s it, I’m not cooking any longer,’ ” he said. “Just like that. At the time the only thing I knew how to make was French toast. So I was confronted with a choice: Starve or start cooking. So I’ve been doing all the cooking the last 29 years...

Full story at

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